4 years running…

4 years

4 years ago.  I started running.  on halloween, the story goes. 

I with my broken heart and she mentioning to me that she’d like to run again.

in 2007 I wrote this post about starting to run for the first time using couch to 5k.

On out first runnerversary, i didn’t even blog about it. 

We had been casually entering races here and there.

The next year, one of us entered the wrong

Nike Women’s Marathon.

She entered the half, and I entered the full.  I got drawn.  She didn’t.

on year 2, i wrote all this post about our journey together.

I had just finished my first marathon, with 3 more to follow.

Last year at this time, I was running my 3rd marathon.

She was getting to run her first marathon the following week.

In March, we both went to the LA Marathon.  She PR’d

in the monsoon marathon.

Since then, we really have only run here and there together.

Because I’m getting older and slower,

And she, 15 years younger than me, as she used to remind me.

She, is in the prime of her running.

I got a text from her a few weeks ago.  It read:

“I’m getting marathon fever.”

Me too, honey.  Me too.

It’s been a hell of a ride.

Happy 4 year runnerversary!!!!

Yeah. I changed my mind.

A year ago, I wrote this post  about banditing a race.  I was very all high horse about it …

Oh, how much can change in a year. I had Shiloh & Glenn both running with me for portions of LA, and I didn’t seem to mind!  And now, this!

Who would have guessed that after the 2011 LA Marathon, that I would have hit the proverbial skid row of running.  All throughout the summer, I’ve run little 5K and 10K races, just to keep the juices flowing…but I ran out of gas.

I started the 40 day challenge for myself, after reading about it on ChicRunner’s site.  I thought, you know what? You better get moving!!  (i’m on day 17, having run 3 miles this morning)

I miss racing.  I miss the yelling, the cheering, the FUN of the run.  Races are really the icing on the cake of weeks of training.

A few weeks ago, my good friend Penny asked me if I would run the last 3 miles of the San Francisco Half Marathon with her.  I ignored her.  I asked Harley Guy if we had any plans that weekend …and he says NOPE.  I ignored again, thinking that she surely found someone who could run decently.  Who could at least keep up with her.  Didn’t she know that I wasn’t even really a runner anymore?

I got another message from her last week.  I couldn’t avoid it any longer.  Yes.  I said yes.

And now?  I’m totally freaking serious.  Like I have myself on a running schedule all week.  I cannot let her down.  This girl is an amazing supportive runner, and a great friend.  And she has asked me for help.

I’m banditing 3 miles.  AND…I promise NOT to drink or eat or get in anyone’s way.

But, I’m helping my girl to the finish.  Try to catch us!

in which i broke up with my running partner. sorta.

I love my running partner.

She has been there for me since Halloween 2007.  Our sons have been best friends since first grade.  We can read each other’s movements.  She always runs on the right, me on the left.  I know what brand of laundry detergent she uses.  I know her gait almost by heart, and I know when she’s having a rough morning.  She never has to use the restroom, but always stops with me at Mile 1.  Our runs are so routine,  I know exactly when she will cross a street.

But, there comes a time in every relationship, where you have to call a spade a spade, and you must simply break it off.  This is that time.

Kim and I were 34 and 48 when we started running.  Compared to now, I seemed almost spry.  (I’m 52 now) I could keep up with her.  She was content to run at a 10:30 pace with me.  I remember one time when I was on the ground, and she leaned over and said “That’s okay, you’re 14 years older than me”…and it was then that I realized that we were of different fitness levels due to our ages.

I have done 3 marathons.  I trained with each one of them with Kim by my side.  Last year, as I was training for Marine Corps Marathon, I convinced her to run the Fresno Eye-Q Marathon, because she was already trained.  My joy at seeing her at mile 26 was overwhelming, and I ran with her to the finish.  She finished at 4:50, the time we both wanted.  (I’m still trying to be sub 5:57!)

I was surprised when the LA Marathon folk offered me a bib, because of course old readers to this blog know that the two weeks after a marathon I always say “I will never do this again”.  We started training.  And because I know she is after a new goal, our regular training would not do.

I’m getting slower.  I will be very happy to finish strong in LA, focusing on “maybe” doing 5mph.  Kim, on the other hand is getting faster…

Several weeks ago, I called it.  We had to break up.  It would be the only way for her to sub 4:30.  Without me.  She begged.  “No.  I like us.”  I said, “I’m sorry, it’s for the best.  It’s not you.  It’s me.”  We called my coach, who gave us a plan to where she could go out, loop around, and come back for me.  It seemed to work.  For the last month, Kim and I…we didn’t completely break up.  We start together.  She’s still at my door at 5am.  We sometimes end together, but mostly when I get back to my house, her car is long gone.  She texts me at night to do my CORE.  We are still together, only different.  I cut her loose, and she is ready to shine in LA.  She has gotten so much stronger in the last month!

My greatest joy will be to see her meet her goal in LA, because she can do it.  And, I know she will see me cross as well…because when you’ve been together as long as we have, you simply must see it all the way to the end.

~~Cherry Popping Marathon~~

Today was truly a thrilling day for me.  My running partner of three years attempted her first marathon today.  We were training together for MCM, and I finally said to her, you might as well do Fresno.  It’s one week later, and you are already trained.

The Fresno Eye Q Marathon is probably one of my favorite courses ever.  Last year we ran the half, and not only is it super flat, but the team of people running it are very helpful.  This year again, every mile had water or Gu or Gatorade.  There were only about 700 marathoners, and there was half and relay teams.  Also, Fresno had it’s first ever Ultra, and I got to see Dean Karnazes run at mile 15 & at the end. 

I think I was more nervous for her than for me.  I was driving her down.  I set three alarms, and to tell you the truth, having Daylight Savings didn’t help, because I kept waking wondering if I was on the right time.  I picked her up at 5, and drove her to the start line.  She lined up with the 4:30 pacer group.  I was weaving in and out because I was looking for SAM (http://www.operationjack.org/)  and MEGAN (http://www.veganrunningmom.com/)  I also knew that Chris (@Da_Goo) was running, but couldn’t find anyone but Kim and Sam.

(Kim.  Moments before the start)

Sam, getting ready to kill it.  (I was in boots.  With heels.  Felt amazing to walk in them!)

They took off with no weird start, just counting down from 10.  And suddenly I felt alone.  What do I do now?  I made my was to my car with the course map, and drove like a bat out of hell to Mile 8.5 in Clovis.  I had coffee with a friend, but couldn’t really focus, because I didn’t want to miss Kim.

Saw her at a 9:50 pace.  She looked good.  She said she was fine.

Drove again trying to get to Mile 19, but the roads were all blocked off.  There are a lot of new roads and freeways since I left Fresno almost 20 years ago, so I was not clear where I was.

Finally, I found Mile 15, and thought I’d better stop there.

I took my signs across the road, and there I saw everyone I was looking for:  First Dean Karnazes, then Sam, then Megan, and then Kim.  She was looking tired, and it’s so hard at those *bite me* miles.  That long stretch in the middle. 

You Gave Up Sleeping In On Weekends.

Everyone seemed to love this sign, and they laughed and pointed, and smiled, and I just got the biggest kick out of being there.  I really loved it.   Even when Kim crossed, I didn’t want to leave.  But, I needed to get to the end.

I drove sort of aimlessly to the Finish Line at Woodward Park, and I didn’t even know where I was, but I looked up, and there were the runners at 25.5.  I parked, and got my sign…and even though I had no shoes, I was going to run in with Kim.  First @Da_Goo ran in, and got a BQ with a 3:10 pace.  Then Sam, then Megan. 

I’m standing there, and this girl is walking along.  Barb, my college roomate.  We were standing there laughing about how in the 70s Jerry Brown was governor, and we were trying to legalize pot.  Deja Vu California!!!

Here is Sam, just as he had to take off for home.  It was fabulous to hang with him for a few minutes, and November 7 is such a memorable day for him…I was simply blessed to be there.  He is a freak of a fast runner.  Damn.  Every weekend?  You can read his race report here.

Barbara and I were laughing so hard, I nearly missed Kim.  Saw her.  Grabbed phone and keys, and took off running.

I ask her how she is.  She says, and I quote:  “I want to walk.  I hate this.  I’m dying.  I puked.” 

And we keep running.

And people are walking by, and I’m like “DUDES this is her first marathon!!!” and people start cheering, and I run to the top of the hill, and run off the course and back on.  And she is not walking.  And I cannot believe how excited I am for her.  For this girl who has run nearly every mile with me for three years.  How she is about to change.  I finally hop off the course, and she crosses.  4:50.  Amazing.  I am more thrilled for her than I have ever been for me.  Because of course I feel fine.  I only ran .4 mile. 

Incredibly proud.  Incredibly grateful.  To the best running partner there is: 


3 Year Anniversary


Tomorrow, 10-31-10

It will be 3 years since Kim said to me:

You want to run?

Us standing there.

She with a stroller.

Me with a broken heart.


Let’s try.

Running through the streets of Ripon

My old school iPod in hand

to see how long

30 seconds is.

Can we really run 90 seconds?

In a row?

Apparently, we can.

Tomorrow, I tackle

Marathon #3.

While Kim…finally finally…

has taken the plunge

And is experiencing her first Marathon

next week.

Happy Runnerversary my great friend.

I love you.

Time to get on the marathon bus.


I’m not sure even how to begin this.  I come home from a busy afternoon.  My son and I are decorating a new bedroom for my oldest, who turns 13 on the last day of his trip.  He will walk in, and he will…for the first time, have his own room.

A very dear friend @Bfrein, sent me the most beautiful and thoughtful gift…a rack for my medals.  It even has a holder for the STUPID baton that we got at San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon.  I was so excited, I put all the medals on and pounded holes in the walls without measuring or anything.  Okay.  Start over.  SO I got everything together, and followed directions, and put the thingys in the wall, and screwed it in, and then it was done.

And, it looks perfect on my wall of fame.  All my bibs from 2008 to now.  My race plans for marathons on the wall.  And I centered my LA Marathon one in the middle, because I’m thrilled for Marine Corps Marathon, but LA is when I’m coming back for redemption.  So, it’s my focus.

Here is the rack close up:

And, as I was putting all of these medals on the rack, one stood out to me…and it was so seemingly insignificant that I nearly missed it, sitting on a pin in the far back.  It was red and dusty, and not really a medal at all.

It was the ribbon I got when I crossed the finish line at my very first official race in January 2008.  We had only started Couch to 5k that previous Halloween, and this was the FIRST BIG RACE.  We carb loaded Friday night.  We were so nervous that we woke as early as possible to drive there.  I don’t even remember where it was.  The bay area.  The race report was so miniscule.  I didn’t even know how to write one.

But this red ribbon.  THIS one.  It’s the one that started me on my way.  Other medals, such as the Half Marathon of Death, which is shoved to the left…they are markers of races and times and friends and the journey.  There are miles of stories to tell with each one….The first place medal I won….out of one…The relay race I ran with Row’s husband…The relay team of “We Run This Town” and laughing and shivering…The 3rd place medal I won as I ran to the finish line as the race organizers were picking up the cones…the heartbreak at Napa to Sonoma of finding out a betrayal of many years…and meeting a new and kind friend…

The stories are all there, on that wall.  But they don’t have any numbers…no PRs next to them…because for THIS girl?  It’s never been about the numbers, except for my new goal.  It’s always been about the people.  The places.  The stories.  The friendships and love.

All the teams and the times and the towns.

And the red ribbon is moved to the front…right in the middle.  Because it says the words “RUNNERS”.  And this community of misfits and rockstars and slow and fast…and young and old…we are all just RUNNERS.  It’s not my runnerversary, but again, in my most humble voice, I say thank you to all of you.   In the voice of a 51 year old single mother raising boys in the most interesting of times…I say I love you. 

Every Runner Has A Story (SF Half Mary Report)

Here are my stats from yesterday’s San Francisco Half Marathon.  They are stats.  Let’s remember this as we proceed.  They only tell part of the story, because by my recollection, this is probably the PW in a Half Marathon.  I will have to check.

1st Half Marathon
Runner Details Race Results
Bib: 63346
Name: Linda Vermeulen
Gender: F
Age: 51
Hometown: Ripon, CA
Overall: 6838 out of 8394
Women: 3823 out of 4989
F 50-59: 298 out of 492
Age/Grade: 46.75% Place: 4432
Finish: 2:46:07 Pace: 12:41
Tag Time: 2:46:07
Gun Time: 3:47:17
Split Times
7.6 M: 1:30:33 Pace: 11:55


My story begins as a 47 year old single Mom of a 10 and 7 year old boy on Halloween 2007…and has been told many times here on this blog.  I started running because I was a PE teacher, then because I was getting a divorce, then because I fell in love with the sport.  I soon was reading everything I could get my hands on…and there are countless posts about this on this site (just go to the Archives section for October).

And every race I want a PR.  I want to improve, and I think that means improve my time.  And until yesterday, I truly believed that was what I wanted.

My PR for a half marathon was set at the Davis Stampede earlier this year with a 2:24 and change.  It was a horrid race, and an even worse course, but we finished it.  If you are supposed to be happy with a mere number, I wasn’t.  But, I digress.

Kim and I ran the race as planned with a very conservative first half.  We hit it for five miles.  I did something I had been challenged to do, which was run without music.  Most of my readers know that I love playlists and songs that will pump me up…but recently my coach has been directing me to naked running.  I balked, as I usually do.

The first mile I ran without music, and all I heard was the light padding of people’s feet all around me.  I could feel my heart and lungs starting to gear up…and I liked it.  I put in my earphones because a group of girls were gossiping about their friend who took a lot of vacations and had a lot of money.  I just didn’t need the negative energy.

We passed 2-3-4 and started up the hill at 5 to what was to be a series of undulating hills.  For the rest of the course.  The hill at mile 2 or so is the same hill that Nike uses, so I’ve seen that mother before.  But, it was easy.  Nothing like the end of the course.  At mile 6 or so you start the 3000 ft ascent to the Golden Gate Bridge…which looks flat but is so … not.

I ran the bridge on the Emerald 12K in 2008, but we were on the other side, it was sunny, and running traffice only one way.  In this half marathon, runners looped so your side was going one way, and you had another group coming back.  And it was a long slow incline…I wish I had taken water at mile 5, and kicked myself knowing there wouldn’t be water on the bridge.  By the time we got to the water station, one person was pouring water, and a few were handing out GUs.  I brought a Honey Stinger, but the fact remains:  I cannot do these things.  So, Kim waited for me…we walked, got water and I tried to settle my stomach.  There was one band.  Still, at this point, no music except for Til I Collapse by Eminem as I tried to reach the entrance to the bridge.

What comes up…must come down, so back over the bridge we go.  And it was no more pleasant, except the other runners were now on the sidewalk which made it a bit easier.  At the exit of the bridge, I was at 9.3 miles, and felt strong.  Even though my numbers were off.  I was strong…and that was joyous.

Miles 10-13.1 were a different story.  I knew San Francisco was hilly.  What I didn’t know was exactly HOW hilly.  Mile 10 downhill was a nightmare.  Like a long, never ending nightmare.  I had no music, and I was paying attention to my legs that were starting to cramp, along with my shoulders.  The up was bad, but the down was worse.  Once I got off that, I knew it would be better.  It wasn’t better.  But, I was listening to my body…and THAT is better.

Mile 11-13 seemed to be one long set of hills.  Mini inclines.  Turn corner.  Incline.  Turn corner.  Repeat.  I walked a bit, because the Honey Stinger was not working for me.  I saw very little support on the side.  Just a lot of runners.  In listening to my body, I also noticed it wasn’t working very hard…so I got to get it moving a little bit.

Finished.  Stand in long long line to go back to the start line, and Kim has a raging tooth infection, so she is not good.  We grab something to eat.  My requisite coffee and her Diet Coke.  And we get a pen, and we write on the tablecloth.  Not on the blog or on a text.  But really dissecting…and this has become my favorite part of racing:  really connecting with the people who ran it with me.  The journey, if nothing else.  And we laugh about the people elbowing us to stay with their pace group, and the gossipers and the loud talkers and the cell phone users.  And, we just laugh.

My story?  It’s on the paper.  Good and bad.  We draw the course as we remember it, and talk about the events leading up to the medal. And, even though the time was not a PR, there was much gained in this race.  From the crazy fun BART ride into San Francisco, to the 3am wakeup call (which is on the right side as negative) to the shivering under a mylar blanket, you just don’t define your race by the numbers.  My story is told in the details.  A fun race.  Hard, but worth it in the end.